The latest draft of the Technology Framework (SBSTA48.IN.i5_v08May) being negotiated as part of the implementation of the Paris Agreement has been out since the end of the May 2018 Bonn SBSTA and SBI meetings. The Framework should have been concluded at the end of the first year of implementation of the Paris Agreement, but, along with the delay in agreeing Paris rules, the Technology Framework has also been delayed. However, the COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 is meant to be the conclusion of the process and should lead to adoption of the Framework. Although it is now somewhat of a political orphan, the Technology Framework was originally put forward by the African Group and was the main technology outcome from the Paris Agreement. This document is what substituted for significant original language addressing financing, intellectual property, and pushing technology transfer implementation by the Technology Mechanism. As has happened before, the proposal did not present a full negotiating text and thus left the details of the Technology Framework to be addressed after the adoption of the Paris Agreement. This turned it into a Secretariat and SBSTA Chair driven process. We are now at a point in the process where the document should have been well developed but it remains at a stage where little is agreed and only some elements have been discussed. A version with some annotated comments by me can be found here: SBSTA48_IN__i5_v08May: and an original can be found here: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/bonn-climate-change-conference-april-2018/sessions/sbsta-48#eq-9
Shubha Ghosh at Syracuse University School of Law was a wonderful host for a symposium on April 25th on Technology & Policy Responses to Climate Disruption. The agenda is available here. Video of the Symposium is available here:
I presented on Panel 2 on Policy Responses and, as has come to be the case, I tended to play the role of Cassandra, which may be getting me a bit of a reputation I suspect. In many ways, the presentation struggles with a core issue I also struggled with in my 2014 PhD and Book: what model of technology transactions and distribution (including intellectual property) should we adopt if we accept that we must peak global CO2 emissions within the next few years or, gods forbid, in the past year or two. I argue that current models for technology distribution are not up to the challenge and that scenarios for addressing climate change use far too optimistic projections for technology deployment. I think the second part of my claim needs significantly more work and analysis of the economic models and scenarios, work which I am looking forward to doing, although it may end up beyond my grasp. I think the first part of my claim is stronger because we have better information of CO2 peaking dates and on current distributions of climate technologies. On the next few blog posts and over the next month I’ll be re-examining the current data and basis for CO2 peaking dates and current distribution of technologies. As a baseline, I’ll revisit below, what I had to say in my PhD 4 years ago.
My Book Chapter on Climate Change, Human Rights, and Technology Transfer in New Technologies for Human Rights Law and Practice edited by Molly Land and Jay Aronson in now available Open Access! The whole book is available Open Access as well, with great contributions by many authors. The book is a unique contribution that defines a new intersection of human rights and technology.
My chapter reviews the broad strategy to link human rights and climate change,
focusing specifically on how well the strategy works to strengthen obligations on
developed countries to transfer technology that can reduce or mitigate the effects of
increased carbon emissions. I argue that the state-centered “development” approach that has dominated both economic development and climate discourse to date has failed to provide a sufficient foundation for realistically addressing the issue of technology transfer.
After a few years primarily as a blog about Technology Transfer and Climate Change, my blog is relaunching as IP&, reflecting my broader research agenda: the intersection of intellectual property with other regimes such as human rights, environment, and indigenous peoples. There will continue to be a lot of writing on climate change, technology and intellectual property, but I will be adding more on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. With that in mind, I’m very excited to note a permanent feature on this site: A data sheet and resource on IP in Native American Tribal Codes. The data was the basis for my article in the Spring 2018 Akron Law Review Special IP Issue “Intellectual Property in Native American Tribal Codes: What is Not being done and Why.” Akron Law Review (Spring 2018). I am very much looking forward to this new-ish direction and hope you will join me.
The Climate Action Network just put out a submission on the development of the new technology framework at the UNFCCC. It’s available here: http://climatenetwork.org/sites/default/files/can_technology_framework_submission_march_2017.pdf
In the Paris Agreement parties agreed that a new Technology Framework was needed to consolidate the current work and provide further guidance to the technology institutions and parties of the UNFCCC. Specifically, the Decision adopting the Paris Agreement (1/CP.21) states:
- Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to initiate, at its forty-fourth session (May 2016), the elaboration of the technology framework established under Article 10, paragraph 4, of the Agreement and to report on its findings to the Conference of the Parties, with a view to the Conference of the Parties making a recommendation […] for consideration and adoption at its first session, taking into consideration that the framework should facilitate, inter alia: (a) The undertaking and updating of technology needs assessments, as well as the enhanced implementation of their results, particularly technology action plans and project ideas, through the preparation of bankable projects; (b) The provision of enhanced financial and technical support for the implementation of the results of the technology needs assessments; (c) The assessment of technologies that are ready for transfer; (d) The enhancement of enabling environments for and the addressing of barriers to the development and transfer of socially and environmentally sound technologies;
as always, the work of the SBSTA has been delayed, and nothing was adopted at the 2016 Marrakesh COP. I hope and believe that it will be adopted at the 2017 COP and parties have made submissions (available at: http://bit.ly/2ef7DCL) on what they think should be involved, as have NGO observers. Setting aside my real worry that by failing to put forward a proposal text themselves, the African group that first proposed this has left themselves at the mercy of the secretariat and the snowballing of input gathering, I think CAN has put forward a really strong contribution to the thinking about technology at the UNFCCC.
As we begin to move into the implementation phase of the Paris Climate Agreement, it seems appropriate to revisit and assess some questions relating to intellectual property and climate change. This is especially important because choices will need to be made on which technologies are effective, which pose the most risks and which will be funded by the Green Climate Fund and other financial mechanisms of the UNFCCC.
Any discussion of whether intellectual property forms a barrier to technology transfer has to define the scope of technologies that are being discussed. One of the most obvious failings in the debate is that most of it is largely limited to mitigation technologies, and a very small set of mitigation technologies at that. Adaptation is rarely addressed. I argue that when properly taken into account, the scope of technologies implicates the entire system for technology regulation and thus the most important level for that, the intellectual property framework. To get to that answer we need to take two intermediate steps: first, identify the nature and type of technologies implicated by the global need; second, identify what empirical evidence we have about the scale of patenting and licensing of these technologies.
In the Paris Agreement countries agreed that a new Technology Framework was needed. Specifically, the Agreement states:
Article 10(4) – A technology framework is hereby established to provide overarching guidance to the work of the Technology Mechanism in promoting and facilitating enhanced action on technology development and transfer in order to support the implementation of this Agreement, in pursuit of the long-term vision referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article.
The framework is only directed at the current Technology Mechanism (The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)). It does not address countries’ individual responsibilities to provide financial or technology support and does not reference or impact Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are the primary ways in which country commitments under Paris are articulated. This means that the framework is the only real substantive outcome on technology from the Paris Agreement. As has happened before, all the text on financial support for technology and on intellectual property dropped out. The pattern of developing countries settling for institutional tinkering over substantive commitments on technology continued in Paris.